A good friend, and very smart fellow, posted on the Webs that he is scared. I felt like writing a response. I too have felt a level of concern that periodically grows to alarm. I’m going to write this to him but I hope someone else might find it helpful too.
Brother, I love you. You are a good man and these are uncertain times. We have loved ones who depend on us and we have worked to create a durable safety for them. However, the environment has shifted in ways that no one living has seen before. It is not that this shift is going to End The World As We Know It. The problem is we are accustomed to engaging our environment with a level of understanding and confidence that is not presently possible. When it comes to protecting what matters most there are two fronts. The first is an invisible killer whose behavior we do not fully understand. It’s a little like having a ghost out there hitting people in the back of the head with a lead pipe. The second is the impact this killer has on services we trust our lives to.
Fortunately we know some things about the killer’s behavior. We can take concrete steps to reduce our exposure e.g. washing hands, getting sleep, social distance, etc. We cannot eliminate COVID risk but we can look for meaningful ways to improve our percentages.
The impact the killer has on services like grocery stores and hospitals is alarming. People ravaging stores of their water and toilet paper (WHY?) presumably so they can build TP forts at home, hide in them, and wait out the virus. My sweetie went to Trader Joes yesterday to grab some food for dinner and the place was nearly empty. She just walked in and walked out again. This didn’t bother her much because we saw this coming and took steps to deepen our pantry. If your pantry is a little shallow do what you can to beef things up. You can start copy canning now (Eat what you store and store what you eat). Also, take notes now of what you wish you had done earlier to read when this has passed. You have a perspective you won’t have later. This illness could overwhelm our medical services and that puts us at greater risk to everything and that takes me to my concluding point.
We cannot protect ourselves completely. We cannot even protect ourselves to the degree we are normally accustomed. Responsible living is doing what we can with what we have and getting on with life. Moments will come when our limbic system will shout at us, “YOU’RE EXPOSED.” It may even shame us for not making different decisions in the past. Well, both those things may be true. Write down and take note of the decisions where you did not make good use of the information you had and acknowledge your exposure. You can tell your limbic, “Yes. These are uncertain times and we are vulnerable in ways that we have not been in the past. I have done what I can and will keep doing it.”
You know that I’ve had a rough go of it the last couple years. I have made a careful and ongoing study of Proverbs 3:5-6. The first half of verse 5 has been my focus lately. What does it mean to trust? Does it mean we can count on Him giving us what we want? Can your little one rely on you indulging her whims? No, but she can trust you to act for good. Trusting, fully and deeply trusting God is a harrowing venture. His context is so much greater than ours that we know in our bones he will not be our sugar daddy. What we know is when we are exposed and when we see danger coming He is counting on us to do our best, but we are in His hands.
There are some great lists out there of US products but I wanted one I could reference that was organized the way I wanted. I also don’t want to restrict origins to just the US. The point for me is to cast my consumer votes for thing made in places, ways, and by people I want to support from materials I trust. This is about supporting places that treat workers well and aren’t under governments hostile to my country. This means Italy, Israel, and Ukraine would be perfectly fair game for the list.
I also include places that may sell some but not all American made products. For example, Filson makes the fantastic, all-American, Makinaw Cruiser but they also sell shirts made in East Asia. To make this clear I use the following legend.
Zen was eye opening and life changing, each time I read it. Lila felt like a work of obligation. While Lila had moments where the third person was used more powerfully than I had ever encountered it before, on the whole I found to book maddening. The quickest way to describe it is the difference between Socrates and Plato. In fact I would Liken Zen to the Apology and Lila to the Republic in regard to their approach to establishing ideas. I was over 10% younger than I am now when I read it and think I might take a gentler view should I read it again.
He was the first person to introduce me to the non-rational foundations of our value systems, every single one. I am grateful for this.
While Russia is spending more than any individual European NATO nation, the total military spending by those NATO nations outpaces Russia by roughly 3 to 1. I have been concerned about the growing Russian threat. I think these data put this threat in a useful context.